Thursday, 29 July 2010

Personality goes a long way

It's simple really. When it comes to dogs, I'm a cat person. It's not that I hate dogs, though I hate many dogs, I just don't understand the fascination with them.

Part of, no the only price, of staying at Carrie's apartment in San Francisco, is walking her flatmate's dog each morning. I don't wish to sound ungrateful for the hospitality, because I am not, nor for the great company (human not canine), but when I rang the doorbell for the first time and heard barking, my heart sank.

Cora (her full name is Corredor, Spanish for runner) is beautiful, I'll give her that. She is a pure bred Weimaraner, and her silvery grey coat has a stunning sheen that is somehow both green and blue and every shade in between. She has those big pathetic eyes that make dog lovers swoon and go aaah. And, after some introductory ball sniffing (her not me), she seems to assent to my presence.

In the morning I take her for a walk. It is the first time in my life that I have walked a dog. She has absolutely no concept of road safety, so I spend the first ten minutes or so explaining the rudiments of the green cross code to her. In one floppy ear, out the other. I am struggling to see the point of the whole dog walking thing though. Surely it is exactly the same as her walking backwards and forwards in the flat, just with more things to sniff.

When I say more things, I mean, specifically, the urine and faeces of other dogs, which seem to rouse considerable interest in her. I find this disgusting and discourage it by tugging sharply at the leash. This is nothing compared to the disgust I feel when I have to pick up her own shit in a small bag of course. She must sense my foreboding, and so defecates in a sort of chain of small craps, each considerably moister than the last, which I then have to hunt down through the long grass like an eager bloodhound. I don't talk to her for the rest of the morning.

Unbeknown to me, Weimaraners have been immortalised in the photography of a guy named William Wegman. He shot his own dogs in strangely human poses, far more unsettling than your standard dogs playing snooker/cards pictures that your gran has on the wall. She is clearly not of the same lineage, since every time I break the camera out to take a picture of her, she (not literally, thank God) shits herself and cowers under the nearest table. How Wegman got them to pose is a mystery to me. Of the hundreds of frames I shoot of her, a couple make it before she turns and fleas, sorry, flees.

So yes, she is beautiful. But walking her about, picking up her shit, I really don't see what I'm getting out of it. She has personality, yes. So do cats, and humans, and any other animal you domesticate thoroughly enough. When you tell a dog lover you're a cat lover, they always try and trump you with the old loyalty card. Sure, cats whore themselves around the neighbourhood, getting fed and petted wherever they can. But it's only human nature, and you can't blame them for that.

Of course dogs are more loyal than cats - they need you. They need you to feed them, walk them and pick up their shit. Cats can survive without us, dogs can't. Yet in a display of loyalty far greater than anything the canine world has ever produced, a cat will always shit in someone else's back yard, and never its own. In my estimation, that kind of personality goes a long, long way.


  1. Once took a similar dog for a walk in Battersea Park at night, trying to win female favour. After having to rescue the dog from the Thames and teach him that inclines are harder to get up than down, I discovered the gates of the park had been locked. Another feline plus is their ability to negotiate six-foot railings without assistance.

  2. What camera do you use?